Fired Just Before Beginning FMLA Leave? Here’s What You Can Do
The Family and Medical Leave Act gives employees the right to take up to twelve weeks of job-protected leave (in some cases, eligibility spans to 26 weeks) with the guarantee that they can return to their role or an equivalent position when the unpaid leave is over.
FMLA leave is a federally protected right, and if an employer violates this right in Georgia or Florida, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination suit.
This article outlines what you should know if you were fired before beginning FMLA leave.
Can You Lose Your Job for Taking FMLA Leave?
It is a violation of FMLA to discriminate or retaliate against an employee who exercises their rights under this Act.
In other words, your employer cannot retaliate by placing you in an inferior position, reducing salary or benefits, or terminating your employment. If you are fired immediately before beginning FMLA leave, the employer must show that the reason for termination was valid and did not involve discrimination or retaliatory measures.
Further, an employer may not engage in the following behavior:
- Attempt to discourage you from taking FMLA
- Refuse to authorize leave
- Changing work hours to avoid meeting eligibility requirements
- Disciplining an employee for requesting leave
- Denying salary increases or promotions as a result of requesting leave
- Using FMLA to dock an employee for missing attendance
Eligibility Requirements for FMLA Leave
Not all companies are required to provide FMLA leave, and not all employees are eligible for leave.
To be an eligible employee, you must have worked for the company for at least 12 months or the equivalent of 1,250 hours within a 12-month period. For a covered employer to be required to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act, the business must employ at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius.
Further, not all conditions are eligible for FMLA leave. An employee can take FMLA leave in the following situations:
- To address Illness or medical condition
- To care for a family member with an illness or health condition
- To recover from childbirth and bond with the baby
- To bond with a child after adoption or when the child is newly admitted to the household under foster care
- To care for a covered service member if the service member is part of the immediate family
About Equivalent Positions
Understandably, an employer might not be able to hold your exact job open for the duration of your leave. While an employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the employer may elect to return you to your original position or one that is “equivalent.”
In this context, equivalent means having the same or very similar duties, responsibilities, and authorities with the same amount of skill required and the same salary or benefits.
Contact an Experienced FMLA Attorney Serving Georgia and Florida
An employer who violates FMLA may have to reinstate the employee, provide monetary damages, and pay attorneys’ fees and court costs. If you believe you were wrongly fired just before beginning FMLA leave, contact The Leach Firm, P.A. for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Termination
A wrongful termination can fill you with confusion. Many of the individuals who reach out to us bring similar questions and concerns. Some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about wrongful termination include:
1. What is considered wrongful termination in Florida and Georgia?
Florida and Georgia share many of the same rules regarding termination. Employers may not terminate the employment of any individual due to factors protected by discrimination laws or for exercising their rights as employees, such as by reporting discrimination, making a worker’s compensation claim, or confronting a company about unpaid overtime or incorrect employee categorization. These are just a few of the many reasons that an employer is not permitted to fire someone. If you have been let go due to reasons such as these, you may have been wrongfully terminated.
2. Do employees have any rights in Florida and Georgia?
Employees in Florida and Georgia have a large number of rights in the workplace. These include the right to work while pregnant and not to be discriminated against on the basis of age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, color, national origin, or disability. Employees who make worker’s compensation claims, take leave due to sickness or family concerns, or even testify against the employer in court cannot be terminated for these actions.
3. Can I sue for being wrongfully terminated?
If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, you may pursue legal action against your employer. It is important that you gather as much evidence as possible, such as data indicating that all individuals of a certain nationality were fired while the rest of the employees were only warned. The specifics of each individual situation will vary greatly. Even if you cannot directly prove that an illegal action occurred during your termination, an employment lawyer may successfully persuade your employer to agree to a settlement in order to resolve the conflict.
4. Is it hard to prove wrongful termination?
Proving wrongful termination can be a particular challenge due to the fact that most employment is at-will. Employers are permitted to fire anyone at any time, even if their performance is satisfactory. This means that if a termination is challenged, an employer will likely cite a justifiable reason, such as unwillingness to be part of a team or being too slow to learn, in order to avoid legal trouble. Be sure to collect as much evidence as possible if you believe that you were terminated wrongfully.
5. How long do you have to file a wrongful termination lawsuit in Florida and Georgia?
In Florida, employees typically have 180 days from the date that the discriminatory or wrongful act occurred to file a lawsuit. In Georgia, the wording of the statute of limitations is slightly different; employees have 180 days from the date in which the party learned of the discrimination. In many cases, the date the employee learned about the discrimination and the date it occurred will be the same.
6. How long do wrongful termination cases take?
Just as a wrongful termination lawsuit settlement varies depending upon the details of the case, so too does the length of time that the case will take. Employers who are willing to settle in order to avoid conflict will typically resolve a case quickly. However, those who fight the charge may take the case to court, which can result in a longer time period due to discovery and other phases of the litigation process. Your attorney can provide a clearer understanding of how long you can expect your individual case to take.
Proven Legal Solutions from an Experienced Attorney
If your employer has provided you with a written contract or any other type of statement that guarantees your job security, then our attorney will fight for you and work to build a solid case. When your termination results in a breach of contract, the odds of receiving compensation increase substantially.
We strive to reach the most agreeable resolution possible for your specific case to ensure that you’ll receive the representation you deserve for your case.
Our Lawyer is Here to Represent Your Legal Rights
In cases where the agreement regarding your continuing employment with your employer was not written and was only implied or spoken, the grey legal area can be difficult to navigate. Fortunately, our lawyer knows how to approach such challenging situations. We fully dedicate all our attention to offering you the aggressive legal representation you need against unfair dismissal. By taking into account all of the unique factors involved with your case, we are able to properly determine the best course of action for your legal situation.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your termination, our attorney may be able to prove that your employer has violated certain state or federal standards. We work by your side to achieve a fair result that works for you and never charge any fees unless we recover the compensation you deserve. Se Habla Español.
Whether you are in need of a wrongful termination attorney or any type of employment discrimination lawyer, we offer sound legal guidance for the representation you deserve. Contact our employment law attorney today at (844) 722-7567 to schedule a free consultation. We provide legal service to clients in Florida and Georgia.